Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Google surveys the signees: Tyrik Rollison

Because someone needs to do the work of plugging in a given Auburn signee's name into Google and synthesizing the tidbits of information that trickle out. Previous entries in this series here.

So, yeah, despite all my cynicism and the cynicism of the universe in general outside of Auburn, Tyrik Rollison has made the grade and will be an Auburn Tiger. As Rollison is a highly regarded quarterback prospect and Auburn appears to be in great need of highly regarded quarterback prospects, this is a capital-B, capital-D Big Deal. Here's what teh Googlez have to say about him.

Basics: I know the danger in statistics like these, so do try to keep your eyes from bugging out with too much force:
Tyrik Rollison
QB, 6-2, 185
Sulphur Springs, TX (Sulphur Springs HS)
High School Coach: Greg Owens

As a senior, completed 315-of-428 passes for 4,728 yards and 51 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,094 yards ... Led team to the Class 4A Division II state championship, passing for 398 yards and four TDs and rushing for 127 yards and three more scores in the title game ... Selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American All-Star game following his senior year ... During his junior season, completed 296-of-423 passes for 3,691 yards and 37 scores while rushing for 554 yards ... Class 4A first-team all-state selection as a junior

Not listed there from Rollison's senior season stats are his 12 rushing touchdowns. So your grand totals for the year: 5,822 yards, 63 touchdowns, and a 73.6 completion percentage. I know we're talking about high school and I know Rollison was (apparently) in an up-tempo high-flyin' system and I know he played a few extra games while, you know, winning a state championship ... but still, those are some utterly ridiculous numbers. Maybe most of them came against less-than-stellar opposition, but we would assume that a Texas state championship game would be played against a quality defense, right? Totals: 525 yards, 7 TDs. That's just silly.

As for Rollison's "measurables," assuming that 6-2 mark is slightly inflated, he's not exactly going to tower over his line, NFL-style. Still, he's not Pat White or anything (height-wise), and with his athleticism he should have plenty of opportunity to throw outside the pocket anyway. His listed 40 time of 4.55 probably isn't entirely accurate, either, but it doesn't change the fact he's faster than fasterson as far as quarterbacks go. Can't say Rollison quite looks as heavy as "185" on film, though, and several scouting reports says he'll need to put on some weight.

Recruitnik hoo-ha: Unless you want to count DeAngelo Benton's ratings coming out of high school, Rollison has not only the highest level of pure guru approval in Auburn's 2009 class but more than any other high school senior signed by Auburn since Lee Ziemba.

The least impressed of the three services is ESPN, who gives him a high three-star/low four-star grade of 79 but does rank him the No. 21 QB and says this:
Rollison is a clone of former Kansas State QB Michael Bishop: similar measurables, live arm, excellent athleticism and a knack for making plays when things break down ... Has great feet and very good speed for the position. Improvises and shows very good initial burst when plays break down. Buys second chances, but generally keeps his eyes downfield prior to running. Can make most of the necessary throws when his feet are set. Shows spicy zip on short and intermediate passes. Has nice touch on the deep ball and demonstrates the ability to drop the ball in over coverage ... His mechanics and footwork create accuracy problems. Carries the ball low and away from his body, and has a tendency to pat the ball. Has quick feet, but isn't always set or balanced to plant and drive the ball to a spot or a target ... In this era of the spread offense, Rollison is a perfect fit in the scheme--and he should only get better.
Most of ESPN's evaluations are written before a prospect's junior year, I believe ... so I wonder if there still would have been as much complaint about Rollison's "accuracy problems" after, you know, he completed 73 percent of his passes for an entire season if they'd waited.

At Scout, Rollison is the No. 11 QB and a solid four-star. Snippet of their blurb abouthim:
Tyrik is considered the top QB prospect in East Texas for the Class of 2009. Rollison throws the ball with pinpoint accuracy and his poise in the pocket is uncanny.
That seems more in line with his senior performance than the ESPN evaluation, doesn't it? And then there's Rivals, who loves the kid. Four stars, a 6.0 grade (one notch below the five-star level), the No. 60 slot on their list of the nation's top 100 players. (For comparison's sake, Auburn's next player on the list is Dontae Aycock at No. 165.) Rivals ranks Rollison the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country (just ahead of commits to Penn St., West Virginia, and Michigan), the No. 9 overall prospect in Texas, and--get this--the "most accurate" QB in his class. Again: based on guru approval alone, this is the hottest consensus prospect in Auburn's 2009 class.

Which means you have to ask: why the hell was one of the best quarterbacks in Texas headed to either Kansas St. or Baylor--with the only other offers of note Arizona or Oregon, or possibly Texas A&M--before Luper and Auburn swooped in? The easy, obvious answer is grades. Grades, grades, grades. It surprises me a little that no larger Big 12 program--not Oklahoma (hardly a bastion of academic integrity), not Texas Tech, not Oklahoma St.--would roll the dice on Rollison when he seems such a perfectly snug fit both geographically and in terms of their offenses. Could there be some other issue out there?

And after scouring the Interwebs for such an issue, I can report back: not that I can find. If there's some dank, dark secret out there, the Internet is keeping it well hidden; the consensus that Rollison's academics were the issue is universal. In fact, the tiny glimmers you get from people who might seem to know something about the situation suggest that apart from what his struggles in the classroom might suggest, Rollison's not the dim bulb he's being taken for. A Baylor fan who claims to know him says this:
You, and anybody else, who thinks he had a "complete disdain for academics" is completely clueless. Him being a "distraction" is such an ignorant comment.He's a very bright kid and a phenomanol athlete and we missed out bigtime not getting him.
Texas fan at the well-known LSU board TigerDroppings:
I've followed the kid and situation for over two years and I promise you it will be a pure miracle if y'all (meaning Auburn--ed.) can get him in on the first go around. He simply has way too much ground to make up in the short time he has left.

He is a really good kid from a really good family but his grades (both in quality and class numbers) are severely lacking.
Take with as much salt as needed, this being the Internet and all, but the guess here is that Rollison really was simply written off too early as an academic casualty. The Big 12's loss, Auburn's gain, I guess.

Links of potential interest: Sooooo many highlights out there. You saw this batch earlier today. More like so:

but my favorite single Rollison play available for your viewing pleasure? It's at the 1:35 mark of this clip--if there's still any doubt (despite his high school completion percentage) that Rollison has the accuracy and touch to go with his athleticism, that throw should pretty well dispel them.

You can hear Rollison speak in (and watch him throw a pretty spiral) this report from the Texas 7-on-7 championships.

As for text links ... there's so many of them. I'll just hit a few highlights, starting with Rollison's performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Rollison's best work at which is in the YouTube clip in the post below this one. Rivals named Rollison one of the "Stars of the Game," writing
ASSETS: Tremendous pocket presence, strong arm and throws one of the prettiest balls in the country.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to add muscle mass and get stronger to take the physicality of D-I football.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN THE GAME: Easily the most effective quarterback for the West team. He never seemed to panic in the pocket and when he had to scramble he showed excellent speed.
CONCLUSION: Another D(ual-threat)QB who is actually a P(ro-style)QB that happens to have superior athletic ability. He could wreak havoc in the high-scoring Big 12.
He also earned "Best Arm" honors. Barry Every:
He struggled early in the week grasping the new offense and with his timing with unfamiliar teammates. But by game time he was throwing strikes to all parts of the field. I can't wait to see how live his arm is in a few years when he has physically matured.
Burnt Orange Nation wasn't as impressed, but that's OK since they had nothing but mean things to say about A.J. McCarron.

Report from Rollison's title game performance:
“He's an unbelievable talent,” Sulphur Springs coach Greg Owens said. “When he unleashes 65-yard passes, I can hear the sigh and gasps from the crowd, but it's just stuff he expects to do. It's natural for him.”

The most gasp-inducing of Rollison's plays in the state championship actually came from one of his incompletions. Scrambling on a play in the second quarter, Rollison threw a pass from the 18-yard line that hit his receiver's hands at the opposite 18-yard line but was dropped — a 64-yard strike from a player who can run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

On his final TD pass in the fourth quarter, a 16-yard score, Rollison managed to place a pass perfectly in the end zone without ever moving his feet. He took a shotgun snap and immediately lofted a throw to his receiver to catch Dayton's defense off guard.

“That day was one of the best moments I've ever had,” Rollison said. “It was the first time (Sulphur Springs) got to state, and we set a record. It was perfect.”
This will shock you, but there's an Internet ... thing available here titled "Tyrik Rollison Appreciates Fans Support Online." Quote:
I think I can be an instant contributor to a team on the next level and I like the teams that are promising early playing time. I am also getting a lot of fan support on my Facebook from people wanting me to go to their schools. It’s a good feeling to know people out there recognize your talents.
I feel like I should write a post titled "Fans Appreciate Tyrik Rollison's Support Online" just out of irony. (If you're interested, the JCCW's lone post on the beautiful camaraderie between Rollison and Facebook is here.)

Lastly, in case you were wondering, Rollison was also a basketball player.

What conclusions we can draw, if any: Before you say that it's just not possible for a true freshman quarterback to just show up and take over the reins of a new offense (as some of you are saying), could I remind you about another Texas quarterback, one with the (still) made-believe name of Colt McCoy? A three-star from nowheresville, all McCoy did as a true freshman was take over the Texas offense before fall camp was finished and throw for 2,570 yards with a 29-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio. I am not--not not not--saying Rollison is the second coming of McCoy or predicting similar results this season. However: I am saying there is precedent for quarterbacks--maybe especially uncannily accurate spread quarterbacks--to not only take over their team's starting position but succeed in it.

Again, if I was a gambling man, my money would still be on Burns to start the opener. But it's hard to ignore what Rollison would seem to bring to the table--Malzahn's offense requires accuracy out of the pocket but desperately needs a dose of athleticism to make its zone reads and keepers work properly, and I think it's perfectly valid to ask if Rollison doesn't offer the best combination of Caudle/Todd's poise in the pocket and Burns's ability to run. Whether that combination is enough to take over the job immediately ... well, I still kind of doubt it. A freshman is a freshman is a freshman.

But down the road? Unless Rollison's academics really are as poor as his qualification troubles would suggest or new roommate Clint Moseley winds up being a super-sleeper (both legitimate possibilities, it has to be said), I think the worst-case scenario is a two-year apprenticeship and then he takes over as the clearcut No. 1 as a redshirt sophomore. (Barring injury or other off-field mishaps, of course.) The best-case scenario--given Rollison's accuracy, snug fit in the Spread Eagle, and guru reputation--is, well, a scenario a whole lot better than that one.


jrsuicide said...

Great post. You've got even more excited than I already was. I don't care if auburn redshirts him or not, he's starting for my Alternate Reality Video Game Tigers roight away.

1 correction, Colt McCoy was a redshirt freshman the year he started. Jevan Sneed was the true freshman that year....regardless I can think of a number of examples where playing the true freshman QB was the better option...Pat White, Matt Stafford, Terrell Pryor, Jordan Jefferson, & the guy that most makes me think of Rollison would be Robert Griffin of Baylor who had a pretty good season last year and gives the Bears the best shot they've had at making a bowl in ages.

OTS said...

Rollison wasn't a case of where he was just written off too early as an academic casualty. He himself admitted in late January that he did not know his GPA, and that he had just made a 13 on the ACT. He really was in that bad of academic shape even a few months ago.

The biggest issue that was expected was that he was going to need a massive jump in his ACT score to become academically eligible, and that big of a jump in that short of a period of time would have caused the Clearinghouse to throw out the score (as is the standard procedure in that situation). Obviously, though, Rollison came up with the big jump in his ACT score, and the Clearinghouse signed off on it. I imagine that -- and keep in mind this is pure speculation on my part -- he had to have a showing of some type of learning disability or something along those lines in order to explain the disparity in scores. That is what happened last year at UA with Alonzo Lawrence. He made a 16 the first time around on the written version, then made a 24 after taking the oral version. If I remember correctly, I think he was dyslexic.

J.D. said...

I hope you're watching, Jerry. USA 2-0 Spain, 82nd minute

Anonymous said...

I was about to post that. What a game!!!